The ACLU supports the exercise of religious beliefs, but not when it infringes on the rights of others

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Regarding “High Court Gets It Right on Religious Liberty” (July 6): In her column applauding the U.S. Supreme Court for its recent decision allowing business owners to deny contraceptive coverage to their employees for religious reasons, Ruth Ann Dailey argues that business owners should be allowed to impose their beliefs on their employees and discriminate against customers, all in the name of religion.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania supports the right of individuals to exercise their religious beliefs — we have represented a Christian inmate, Muslim pilot, church-run halfway houses and Amish families, among many others — but not when it infringes on the rights of others. 

There is a long history of business owners using religion to justify discrimination, such as paying women less than men, firing unmarried pregnant women and refusing to serve African-Americans. But Ms. Dailey, citing a case brought by a lesbian couple, believes that this kind of discrimination should be permitted if motivated by religion.

While the government should take steps to accommodate religion when necessary, it should not allow business owners to impose their religious beliefs on their employees or customers. That is tyranny, not liberty.

Staff Attorney
ACLU of Pennsylvania

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